The noonday sun reflected off the shiny hood of the cherry-red Karmann Ghia, as it rolled up to the guard shack. Woodruff removed his aviator sunglasses with a snap of his head toward the overweight security guard.
“W and B to see Michela.”
“I’m gonna need to see some ID,” the security guard said, as he scratched at the stubble on his round face.
“We have a 10am photoshoot,” Bob replied from the passenger seat.
“In fashion, you are expected to be fashionably late,” Woodruff said.
“Uh huh,” the guard raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Seriously, we’re hand models.”
“Okay, I’m still gonna need to see some ID.”
“You may recognize these babies from the Helping Hands billboards,” Woodruff proudly held his hands out the window in front of the guard. He waved them majestically in a wave-like pattern. The guard simply leaned back in his chair, popped a FunYun in his mouth and chewed slowly.
“Or these bad boys from the Hands Across Holland campaign,” Bob said as he removed a pair of sequenced white gloves and hung his hands over top of Woodruff’s. The guard yawned and rubbed at his belly.
“Look, if you’re not gonna to show me some ID then I’m going to have to ask you to back this jalopy out of here.”
“Jalopy?” Woodruff exclaimed. “I’ll have you know this is the pinnacle of German engineering and Brazilian manufacturing. This is as 1961 classic, with finned out front grilles and rounded rear taillights. They don’t make them like this anymore.”
“I can see why.”
“How dare you, sir? How dare you?”
“No ID, no entry.”
Woodruff reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He flashed his driver’s license to the guard, who scanned it thoroughly.
“Uh huh,” the guard said. “How ‘bout you, buddy?”
Bob produced a brown paper bag from under the seat and rooted around in it. He discarded a peach pit, a silver chain with a smoking sphere on the end, two index cards, a grey-tailed squirrel and a playbill from Wicked, before he found his license.
“I bet Heidi Klum doesn’t have to deal with this,” Bob grumbled.
The guard smirked as he was presented with the mustard stained ID.
“Your middle name is Carroll?”
“It’s a unisex name!”
Bob frowned as he snatched back his ID and dropped it in the brown paper bag. The guard smiled broadly as he raised the gate and waved them onto the lot. Woodruff bent right, along a grassy roundabout, and pulled into a parking spot mark with a V.I.P. sign.
“The nerve of that guy.”
“Seriously,” Bob said as he slipped his sequenced gloves on like a surgeon. “I’m almost too upset to work.”
Woodruff gingerly pressed down on the door handle with his elbow and pushed the door open with his leg. Bob wiggled out through the open window with his glove covered his hands held toward the sky. He rolled onto the pavement headfirst and sprang to his feet without using his hands. The sound of ringing bells drew Bob’s attention toward a mobile ice cream cart on the back of a tricycle.
“All set?” Woodruff asked.
“You go on in,” Bob said. “I’ll be right behind you.”
As Bob skipped toward the ice cream cart, Woodruff approached the glass-lined office building. With his hands held out in front of him, Woodruff tapped on the front door with his foot. A short slender receptionist hurried around her desk and pushed open the door for him.
“You’re welcome,” the receptionist said. “Who are you here to see?”
“We have a session with Michela.”
“Of course, he’s been waiting for you,” the receptionist said, as she stepped to the side and invited Woodruff in. “This way.”
She led the way down a white hallway, covered with varied photographs of babies, beautiful women, well-groomed men, athletes, flowers, gorgeous landscape, and asparagus. The slender receptionist propped open a black door and Woodruff stepped inside a well-lit room.
“Finally!” a middle-aged man, with wild black hair, exclaimed. “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting?”
“Not really, what time did you get here?”
“9:30,” Michela said. “We are paying for this studio time.”
“Two hours and fifty-one minutes.”
“That’s how long you’ve been waiting, if you arrived at 9:30.”
“Ay dios mio,” Michela grumbled. “Can we get started? Where’s di other one?”
“Higgle Biggle, my snaggle waggle,” Bob said as he strode into the room past the slender receptionist, who was still holding open the door.
“What is dis thing he is saying?”
“It’s just the lingo for the bingo, papi ringo,” Bob said, and tried unsuccessfully to snap with his gloves on.
“It’s really not,” Woodruff said.
“Please, enough with dis nonsense,” Michela said. “Let’s just get di shot.”
“Get the shot?” Bob said. “What are we, archers? We don’t just get the shot. We make magic.”
Bob raised his hands and wiggled his fingers, inside the sparkly gloves. Woodruff crossed his arms, held his open hands over his shoulders and posed next to Bob. Michela shook his head and ran his hands through his frizzy mane. He picked up his camera and headed over to a platform, which was covered by a large green cloth with a towering green backdrop.
“What is this?” Woodruff questioned toward the green backdrop.
“It’s a green screen,” Michela replied. “We’ll drop in di product and di background in post-production.”
“CGI?” Bob asked, incredulously. “Oh no, we don’t do CGI. Practical effects only. It’s in our contract.”
“Practical effects won’t work for di advertiser’s vision.”
“Vision?” Woodruff said and held his hands in the air again. “These hands are the vision.”
“We can’t have our fans thinking these babies are digitally enhanced,” Bob added, as he stripped his sequenced gloves off. “These are all natural.”
“It’s an ad for Orbits gum,” Michela argued. “Set in space!”
“Well then, call Elon Musk and book us three seats on a jet plane.”
“Dat’s ridiculous. We’re not doing dat. We just need a picture of hands reaching for a piece of gum, dat’s orbiting di earth.”
“Ridiculous?” Bob said. “That picture is ridiculous. Everybody knows that in the absence of atmospheric pressure the water in your body vaporizes and your skin tissue swells up. So if you think of pair of bloated hands frozen in space is going to sell some spearmint refreshment, then by all means go with that ludicrous ad.”
“And enjoy the hellacious sun burn you’ll get from unfiltered cosmic radiation,” Woodruff added.
“You two are insane!”
“Insane is letting the man corrupt your creative soul and compromise your artist integrity, Michela.”
The photographer buried his head in his hands and growled. Woodruff and Bob watched as he took a dozen heaving breaths, before he shook his wild and wooly hair and set a squinty eyed glare on them.
“Do you have a better idea?” Michela asked, in a surly tone.
Bob looked over and Woodruff with a great big smile and nodded.
“Actually, we do,” Woodruff said. “Picture with me an evening sky just before dark, a few elect stars have already made their presence known. Two pairs of hands, linked together thumb to index finger, surround of single piece of gum floating at their center.”
“The hands are orbiting the gum?”
“Exactly!” Bob replied.
“I love it!”
“Of course you do.”
“Let’s set up to shoot it this evening.”
“Sure thing,” Bob said. “Um, I just need a change of pants before then.”
“Did you stick an ice cream cone in your pocket again?” Woodruff asked.
“This time it was sealed with a thick chocolate shell.”
“Bob, what did I tell you about that?”
“I put it in my back pocket to give it plenty of oxygen.”
Bob turned around to reveal the mushy remains of an ice cream cone dripping down the back of his leg.
“Oxygen is not the problem!”
“Well where am I supposed to store my frozen dairy treats until I’m ready for them?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Woodruff said, raising his voice. “A cooler?”
“I’m not using my delicate digits to carry around a cooler like a couple of common meat hooks.”
“Then you have to wait!”
“But Biggle-ill wants his chill thrill.”
“First off, stop talking like that,” Woodruff said, pointing his finger at Bob. “And, for the sixth time, you can’t stick a frozen dessert in your pants pocket and expect it to stay frozen. Your pockets aren’t insulated.”
“But what if they were?”
“Isolated pants pockets?”
“Yes!” Bob exclaimed. “Pockets made for the ice cream lover on the go.”
“We could call it the ice cream attaché.”
“Better yet, we could sell the naming rights. Häagen-Drawers!”
“I don’t throw this word around lightly,” Woodruff said. “But that is genius.”
“Let’s go work up a marketing plan.”
Bob kicked off his shoes and removed his pants to reveal a pair of leopard print underwear. He handed his ice cream stained britches to Michela and marched toward the exit. Woodruff held the door open for his pant-less friend and followed him down the hall as the studio door swung closed. The photographer stood alone in the silent studio holding a pair of chocolate soiled pants.